A drop tower or big drop is a type of amusement ride incorporating a central structure or tower. Drop towers vary in height, passenger capacity, lift type, and brake type. Many are custom-made, although there are some mass-produced designs. Riders experience free-fall initially, followed by rapid heavy deceleration.
With most drop towers, a gondola carrying riders is lifted to the top of a large vertical structure, then released to free-fall down the tower. Brakes activate to slow the gondola as it approaches the bottom of the ride. Some designs expand on this concept with features such as rotating gondolas, or several bounces before coming to rest.
Most drop towers require child riders to exceed a minimum height; limits vary widely depending upon the nature of the tower, with a 30-foot (9 m) tower for smaller children from 37 inches (95 cm) tall, and a 115-foot (35 m) tower having a 51-inch (130 cm) restriction.
Drop towers use a magnetic braking system to slow the carriage quickly and smoothly once it reaches the bottom of the tower. This system is fail-safe because magnets do not need to be powered by electricity or other sources; they work intrinsically by the laws of magnetism.
Drop tower designs
Mass-produced tower rides include:
Tallest vertical drop towers
|Rank||Name||Park||Location||Drop height||Structural height||Manufacturer||Record holder|
|1.||Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom||Six Flags Great Adventure||Jackson, New Jersey, USA||415 feet (126 m)||456 feet (139 m)||Intamin||July 2014 – Present|
|2.||Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom||Six Flags Magic Mountain||Valencia, California, USA||400 feet (120 m)||415 feet (126 m)||Intamin||July 2012 – July 2014|
|3.||The Giant Drop||Dreamworld||Coomera, Queensland, Australia||377 feet (115 m)||390 feet (120 m)||Intamin||December 1998 – July 2012|
|4.||Highlander||Hansapark||Sierksdorf, Germany||338 feet (103 m)||394 feet (120 m)||Funtime|
|5.||Blue Fall||Sea Paradise||Yokohama, Japan||328 feet (100 m)||351 feet (107 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|La Venganza del Enigma||Parque Warner Madrid||Madrid, Spain||328 feet (100 m)||377 feet (115 m)||S&S Worldwide||N/A|
|6.||Donjon de l'Extrême||Nigloland||Dolancourt, France||312 feet (95 m)||345 feet (105 m)||Funtime||N/A|
|7.||Falcon's Fury||Busch Gardens Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay, Florida, USA||310 feet (94 m)||335 feet (102 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|8.||AtmosFear||Liseberg||Gothenburg, Sweden||300 feet (91 m)||381 feet (116 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|9.||Hurakan Condor||PortAventura Park||Salou, Catalonia, Spain||283 feet (86 m)||330 feet (100 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|10.||Drop Tower||Kings Dominion||Doswell, Virginia, USA||272 feet (83 m)||315 feet (96 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|11.||Drop Tower||Kings Island||Mason, Ohio, USA||264 feet (80 m)||305 feet (93 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|Big Tower||Beto Carrero World||Penha, Santa Catarina, Brazil||264 feet (80 m)||328 feet (100 m)||Intamin||N/A|
Other notable examples
- Big Shot on the top of the Stratosphere Las Vegas reaching 1,081 feet (329 m) was the highest situated drop tower ride in the world, with a drop of 160 feet (49 m) to a base 921 feet (281 m) above ground level
- Space Probe located at Wonderland Sydney in Australia
- Drop Tower at five Cedar Fair parks
- Apocalypse at Drayton Manor
- Detonator at Thorpe Park
- Tango Ice Blast at Pleasure Beach Blackpool
- Atmosfear at Morey's Piers, Wildwood, New Jersey
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at multiple Disney parks worldwide.
- Acrophobia at Six Flags Over Georgia
- Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! at Disney California Adventure Park
- Mystery Castle at Phantasialand
Injuries and accidents
- Following the Kentucky Kingdom (then-Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom) incident, all Intamin towers were temporarily closed and the Carowinds model was found to have stretched cables.
- On February 24, 2012, 14-year-old Gabriella Yukari Nichimura died in an accident at Hopi Hari, Vinhedo, São Paulo State, Brazil. She fell from the drop tower ride "La Tour Eiffel" suffering cranial trauma and died on the way to the hospital. Local police are investigating the accident. Initial investigations suggested the possibility of mechanical failure in the restraint latch.
- "Ride with 95cm height requirement". Archived from the original on 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Ride with 130cm height requirement". Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Carowinds Thrill Ride Closed for Inspection". (Wire Report). The Herald Online. June 22, 2007. Archived from the original on 2016-02-08. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- "Adolescente more após acidente em parque de diversões no interior de SP" [Teenager Dies after an Amusement Park Accident in the Interior of SP] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2012-02-24.